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Senator Tom Lee, District 20 — Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 1, 2017

CONTACT: Sarah Schwirian, (850) 487-5020


Senator Tom Lee Files Legislation to Protect Florida's Seniors from Financial Fraud

Brandon —

Senator Tom Lee (R-Thonotosassa) announced today the filing of the “Protecting Florida Seniors from Financial Fraud Act,” a piece of legislation devised to safeguard Floridians in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs).

“Unfortunately, the conduct of a few bad actors, specifically the management of one CCRC in my community, has highlighted the need to increase oversight of these organizations,” Senator Lee said. “Current statute does not adequately protect residents and employees against facility insolvency, loss of provider assets, and loss of resident investments. It’s essential to address these issues to ensure CCRCs can fulfill their obligations to one of the most vulnerable segments of our population.”

There are 71 licensed CCRCs in Florida serving more than 31,000 residents. The Office of Insurance Regulation (Office) is responsible for regulating a CCRC’s financial solvency, residency contracts, and the disclosures made to prospective residents.

“So many seniors pour their life savings into the promise of one-stop care during their retirement years—care that CCRCs promise to them,” said CFO Jeff Atwater. “It’s shameful to see a few bad players misuse and abuse that money and promise, stealing their life savings and leaving them without a viable, long-term alternative. These common sense solutions will put added protections in place, and I support this consumer-centric legislation.”

The legislation, sponsored by Representative Cyndi Stevenson in the House, requires CCRCs to retain reserves to protect residents and their families, increases the Office’s authority to prohibit hazardous practices and transactions, streamlines the acquisition process to reduce the burdens on applicants, and creates an “impairment” framework to allow for earlier intervention to prevent harm to Florida consumers and their investments.

“Recent events have brought to light weaknesses in the CCRC industry and its regulation,” said Representative Stevenson. “I am introducing this legislation to strengthen the industry and protect residents. I’ve worked closely with the Office of Insurance Regulation, the CFO, and Senator Lee to craft a bill that balances the interests of residents and the needs of the industry, and that provides new authority to protect the substantial investments made and the long-term promises exchanged. The bill streamlines regulation while enhancing protections where they matter most.”

“The decision to join a CCRC represents a substantial investment of assets, time and trust for a resident and their family. I applaud Senator Lee and Representative Stevenson’s sponsorship of this important legislation to further strengthen protections for these residents by increasing financial safeguards and fixing provisions under current law that act as a deterrent to regulatory oversight for those with bad intentions,” said Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier.

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